How To Use This Site




How To Use This Site


This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.

We hope you enjoy this site.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Camp Devin, Montana/Wyoming


These are rather wintery photographs of a place that was only occupied until late summer in 1878. So the pictures are unfair by their very nature, however, like a lot of photographs here, I take them when I go by them.


If you click on these photos you'll get the full, albeit short, story of Camp Devin.  It was a post Little Big Horn camp established just off (and I mean just off) the northern boundary of the Black Hills in 1878 in order to guard the construction of a telegraph line.


I don't know the reasoning behind the location of the post, but it was likely because the Black Hills themselves remained a real threat and, in terms of locating a camp ground, assuming that there's water near by, you couldn't ask for a flatter location.


The post location is likely slightly approximate.  The sign is a State of Wyoming sign, but the location is literally right on the Wyoming Montana border.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Lex Anteinternet: It's Superb Owl Sunday! (Apologies to MKTH).

Lex Anteinternet: It's Superb Owl Sunday! (Apologies to MKTH).: As well it should be.  Owls, indeed, are superb. And its high time the nation recognized that, right? Which is apparently what&...

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Lex Anteinternet: I still can't help but wonder what became of Pvt. Dilley

Lex Anteinternet: I still can't help but wonder what became of Pvt. Dilley:

I still can't help but wonder what became of Pvt. Dilley.

You remember Pvt. Dilley, at least if you followed this and our Today In Wyoming's History blog.

Drafted men boarding a train to a military camp for training.  Is Pvt. Dilley looking back at us?

I particularly wonder in light of the story of the Wyoming National Guardsmen of the 148th Field Artillery we discussed here the other day, and their proud service.

For those who might not recall. Pvt. Dilley was a young soldier who joined the National Guard when the Guard was recalled to service following the declaration of war against Germany.  In early August, he disappeared.  At first it seemed foul play or a tragic accident was involved.  It was suspected that he'd drowned in a stream, for example.

Well, soon after that, it appeared that Dilley had just despaired of military life and had gone AWOL, and that had grown into desertion.

He never reappeared.

His elderly father hoped for his return but felt that he had been murdered. Authorities didn't support that view and believed he'd simply taken off.

If he did, he took off into a country that would draft a 4,000,000 man Army and which became aggressive about "slackers".  It would have been hard for Dilley to remain out of uniform.

American medics treating a battlefield casualty, March 6, 1918.  Is Dilley on the stretcher?  Is he treating the wounded.

In 1917 it probably didn't seem that way. The country didn't have Social Security Cards at the time.  Most people didn't drive, actually and driver's licenses were mostly a thing of the future.  Lots of people had no birth certificates.  In short, "ID" was basically a thing in the American future.

If Dilley deserted, as the authorities believed, and was not murdered, as his father believed, staying out of the military would have been tough for a man of his age.  Some did manage, however.  Perhaps he did.  Perhaps he somehow simply managed to dodge service, although as noted that was far from easy.  Maybe he took a job in a shipyard or something of the type, which provided some of the few draft exempt occupations that were available during the war.

Did Dilley find work in a plant during the war that exempted him from service? And if he did, did he pass a sign like this everyday and feel guilty about his path, or relieved that he wasn't in France?

Some took the opposite approach, as we've read about before, and escaped the law by entering the service where they blended into the mass of men joining for World War One.  Dilley may have done that. Perhaps he just joined back up, or was drafted under an assumed name.

Its impossible to not to wonder what became of him.  If he did end up back in uniform, was his second experience with military life better than the first?  He was supposed to be a medic in the Wyoming National Guard. What did he end up in his second experiment with the service, he that occurred. A medic again?  A clerk? An infantrymen?  In the Army of 1917-18 non combat roles were much fewer than those in later eras.  Did he march in the mud of France carrying a 1917 Enfield on his shoulder at the Marine watching Renault EGs roll by wishing he'd stayed in the Guard?

We'll never know.

His father never found out.

But we wish we did.

American Renault EG artillery tractor towing a French made 155 howitzer.  Did Dilley end up marching past his former compatriots of the Wyoming National Guard and wish he'd stayed in (although being an artillerymen was dangerous enough in its own right).

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lex Anteinternet: December 23, 1918. Wyoming Guardsmen of the 148th...

Lex Anteinternet: December 23, 1918. Wyoming Guardsmen of the 148th...:

December 23, 1918. Wyoming Guardsmen of the 148th Field Artillery at the Château-Thierry and beyond.


The DI of the 148th Field Artillery.  Many of the Wyoming Guardsmen who served as infantry on the border were reassigned to this Field Artillery unit made up of Rocky Mountain Region and Northwestern Guardsmen during World War One.


If you'd been wondering what became of the men of the Wyoming National Guard, whom we started following with their first muster into service with the Punitive Expedition, the Wyoming State Tribune gave us a clue.





As readers will recall, quite a few of those men were put in to the 148th Field Artillery.  None of them deployed as infantry, which is what they had been when first mustered for border service with Mexico and then again when first recalled for the Great War.  Not all of them ended up in the 148th, but quite a few did, which was a heavy artillery unit of the field artillery.  Indeed, a quite modern one as it used truck, rather than equine, transport.  


Here we learned that the 148th was at Château-Thierry.



Another version of the distinctive insignia for the unit with additional elements for the western nature of the composite elements.




To flesh it out just a bit, the 148th at that time was made up of elements of the 3d Rgt of the Wyoming National Guard, the 1st Separate Battalion Colorado Field Artillery, and the 1st Separate Troop (Cavalry) Oregon National Guard. They were part of the 66th FA Bde.  They'd arrived in France on February 10, 1918, just prior to the German's massive Spring 1918 Offensive.  They were equipped in France with 155 GPF Guns and Renault Artillery tractors.


155 GPF in use by American artillerymen.

They went to the front on July 4, 1918 and were emplaced directly sought of Château-Thierry and began firing missions on July 9.  After that engagement, they'd continue on to participate in the St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse Argonne Offensive.  By the wars end, they'd fired 67,590 shells.

American Army Renault EG Artillery tractor with a GPF in tow.  Note the wood blocks for chalks.

The unit went on to be part of the Army of Occupation in Germany following the war, a mission with which it was occupied until June 3, 1919, when it boarded the USS Peerless for New York.  It was mustered out of service at Camp Mills, New York, on June 19, 1919, with Wyoming's members sent on to Ft. D. A. Russell for discharge from their World War One service.

We'll pick this story up again as we reach those dates, but as we made a dedicated effort to follow these men early on, we didn't want to omit their story later.  Wyomingites reading the papers in 1918 learned of their service, accepting censored soldier mail, for the first time on this day in 1918.  While news reporting done by the U.S. and foreign press during World War One was often remarkably accurate, one set of details that was kept generally well hidden was the service, and even the fate, of individual American servicemen and units.  Wyomingites now learned what role many of their Guardsmen had played in the war for the first time.

And it was a significant one.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Lex Anteinternet: They Shall Not Grow Old

Lex Anteinternet: They Shall Not Grow Old:

They Shall Not Grow Old

You still have time to see this.  It will run again in the United States on December 27.

If you are student of history, or of film, this is a must see.

New Zealander Peter Jackson, famous for his Lord of the Ring films (which I have not seen) was asked by the British Imperial War Museum to take their original movie footage and do something, in terms of a film, with it.  Four years later, this is the spectacular result.

Jackson and his crew took over 100 hours of original IWM film footage, restored it, colorized much of it and then selected six hours of that, and then a little less than two, to produce this movie length tribute to the British fighting man of World War One.  Experts in reading lips were hired to determine what soldiers were saying in the film footage where they can be seen speaking and then matched with actors from appropriate regions of the UK to produce film that sounds like original talking film footage.  Background noises for the sounds of war were added as well (the artillery shocked me in the film as its one of the very, very few instances of artillery sounding actually correct, both in the firing and in the impact. . . it turns out that new recordings of the New Zealand Army's artillery were taken for that effort).

For the voice over, or narration, as to what is being depicted, Jackson relied up on the BBC's series of interviews of British veterans of World War One that were done in the 1960s and 1970s.  These were recently run as a BBC podcast as well, so some individuals may be familiar with this set.  Using it for the film produced an excellent first person result.

There's nothing really like this to compare it to.  It was a huge effort and that produced a very worthwhile result.  Highly recommended.

As an aside, the title comes from Laurence Binyon's 1914 poem, For the Fallen.

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, 
England mourns for her dead across the sea. 
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, 
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal 
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, 
There is music in the midst of desolation 
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young, 
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; 
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; 
They sit no more at familiar tables of home; 
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; 
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, 
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Blog Mirror. Lex Anteinternet: Two Casualties of Belleau Wood, Taking a Closer Look. Part One. Frank O. Engstrom.

Two Casualties of Belleau Wood, Taking a Closer Look. Part One. Frank O. Engstrom.

Recently on our companion blog, Some Gave All, we posted a photo essay on Belleau Wood, France.  We linked that post in here the other day.

Like the poem In Flanders Fields related, in the photos you can see "row on row" of crosses marking the graves of the lost.  Each one of those combatants has his own story of a life that was cut short.  Here we look at just two such lives, however, and for particular reasons.

We start with Pvt. Frank O. Engstrom of Rawlins Wyoming.


Indeed, we posted a little on Pvt. Engstrom the other day on another of our companion blogs, Today In Wyoming's History. We'll start again with that entry.

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France. Frank O. Engstrom.

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France:

This is a selection of photographs from a much larger entry on our companion blog, Some Gave All.  These feature the chapel at Belleau Wood and are linked in here to note the listing of a Wyoming soldier, a member of the 1st Division, who lost his life at Belleau Wood.

Frank Engstrom entered the service from Rawlins.

Lest we forget.


























So there we have a little more, but still not much.  Who was Pvt. Engstrom of Rawlins and what was his life like?

It's not all that easy to tell much about him, but we can tell a little. To start with, he was a 21 year old native of Rawlins Wyoming who was employed as a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad when he entered the Army as a conscript.  And he'd lived a pretty hard life, by modern standards, up until that time.

Fireman. This photograph is from 1942 and isn't of Frank Engstrom, who had been dead for over twenty years. But the job was the same in 1942 on coal burning steam locomotives.  This fireman in 1942 appears to have been about the same age as Engstrom was when he entered the service in 1917.

According to his draft registration card, Frank Engstrom was born on April 15, 1896, in the town of Rawlins.  He was, according to that draft card, of medium height and medium build, with light brown eyes and brown hair.  He was a single man, but according to his draft card, attested to in Laramie County (not Carbon County) he was supporting his mother when registered for the draft.

In the twenty-one years that passed between his birth and death, Engstrom saw his share of tragedy.

By the time he was conscripted his father, August Engstrom, had died.  We can't easily tell from what, but he was still alive at the time of the 1910 census and was about 43 years old at that time, not all that old.  He didn't make it to 53.  While I can't tell for sure, given the names of the children and the last name, August was likely born in Sweden and had immigrated to the United States.  He died sometime between 1910 and 1917 leaving his wife, Mary, and four children.  The ages of the children at the time of his death are unknown, as the date of his death is unknown.

In the 1910 Census August and Mary reported their son Frank's name as "Franz", although that may be a handwriting glitch.  Both names are fairly Nordic and either could be correct.  In 1910 the August and Mary Engstrom family had two other children, Olga (1899) and Effie (1896).  A John and "Ostrend" would come later, with John being born in 1901 or 1902.  "Ostrend" was younger than that, and that odd name wasn't her name.  Her name was Astraid and she was born in 1906.*


The November 4, 1915 Rawlins Republican reported that Frank was at the wedding of his sister Effie, who married a Wyoming State Prison Guard, Alex Gordon just before then.  He was accompanied by his sister Olga, then 14 or 15 years old.  That prior July the Republican reported that Frank had been in Laramie as a "business visitor", at which time he would have been 19 years old.  His sister Effie was about 15 or 16 at the time of her marriage to Alex.

There were quite a number of Engstrom's in Carbon County Wyoming, and indeed there still are an appreciable number.  Chances are high that Frank is related to some of the Engstrom's still there, although none of them would be his direct descendants.  His sisters had strongly Scandinavian names and that suggests his parents, as noted, were from Sweden, given his last name.  Indeed, a John Engstrom, but not his younger brother, was a wine merchant in Rawlins at the time and did sufficiently well to return to Sweden for a year with his family after World War One. That Engstrom was still living in Rawlins at the time of the 1940 census, then age 63.

In 1915 Frank's sister Effie married Alex Gordon, a  guard at the penitentiary in Rawlins.  She was two years younger than he was, having been born in 1898.  She was a young bride at about 15 or 16 years of age (more likely 16).  While that seem shockingly young, its worth remembering that its quite likely that by 1915 Frank was supporting his mother, brother and three sisters.  One sister marrying at that time probably didn't seem unreasonable under the economic circumstances of the day.

By August 8, 1917, Frank was notified to report for a draft physical at the Carbon County Courthouse.


He was apparently found physically fit for service, but applied for an exemption on the basis that he was supporting his mother and younger siblings.  That request was granted by the local draft board.  Indeed, it seems only reasonable that this be done.


Frank Engstrom was notified that he was likely to be conscripted, however, by October 18, 1917.  Apparently his exemption has been waived or reconsidered in some fashion.  It's hard to know what, given that two of his siblings remained quite young.  Apparently he either reconsidered his circumstances himself, or perhaps other family members were deemed the proper parties to take up the economic burden of the young Frank.

He departed Rawlins on Saturday November 8, 1917 on a train owned by his employer ,the Union Pacific, with fourteen other men who were entering the service and who were bound for Camp Lewis, Washington.


The prior day the band from Hanna Wyoming traveled over to send them off after a banquet at which they played and which was held at the Ferris Hotel. The Elks Club served the men and their families.  That night they could view, if they wanted to, the movie The Slacker for free, as the theater owner had opened up attendance for them.  We don't know if Engstrom went or not.

The Strand Movie Theater in Rawlins.  It was the theater in 1917.

On September 28, 1918, Pvt. Engstrom was reported Missing In Action, with that news released to the public after the war was over, on December 7, 1918.


Frustratingly, only a few days later he was reported as only "slightly wounded".






The May 8, 1919, Rawlins Republican reported the sad news that Frank was confirmed killed in action.  It would later be determined that he was the first man in Rawlins to have died in action, with his death coming on July 19, 1918.  The slowness of confirming news of battlefield casualties, which was already a topic of controversy late in the war, is shown by the fact that Engstrom died on July 19, but was reported as missing in action as late as September, with his death not confirmed until after the war.

It must have been awful for his sisters.

By that time, his mother and his sister Olga had already died before him. We don't know of what, but we do know that it occurred after he left for service in France.  His mother Mary was likely in her 40s.  Olga was three years younger than Frank.  Chances are high that they both died of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.  Their ages and circumstances would have been right for that.

In November 1919, the newly formed VFW post was named after him.  Sometime prior to 1926 another Rawlins serviceman by the last name of Duncan had his name named to the post.


Effie Gordon continued to live in Rawlins after the war.  She and her husband had a son in 1919. They named him Frank.  Alex became the County Coroner for Carbon County.  Effie became active in Democratic politics and still was as late as 1960.

A John Engstrom was reported in the 1940 census still living in Rawlins at age 63, but that was certainly not Frank's brother and more likely the (former?) wine merchant who had returned to Sweden for a year after the passage of the Volstead Act in which to tour it. Was he related.  He may well have been, given the propensity for immigrants and immigrant families to settle near their fellow expatriates and family. But there were a lot of Engstroms in Carbon County and its not easy to tell.  Another John Engstrom was reported living there as well who was 33 years of old,  having been born in 1910.  That was likely Frank's brother.

Today the VFW Post in Rawlins is the Independence Rock Post.

It seems they forgot him after all.

So is this a sad story?

Well, maybe, maybe not.  Maybe its the story of how life was at the time.  This seems to be how veterans of the war viewed it themselves.

_________________________________________________________________________________

*There's some slack in the details as to John and Astraid (Ostrend) Engstrom, and more slack as to Astraid/Ostrend.  Ostrend would be a very unlikely name and is more like a place name, when naming people after locations would have been highly unusual.  Astraid, on the other hand, was a name then in use and which sounds somewhat similar.  There was an Astraid Engstrom of the right age living in Rawlins at the time and she was young enough to have been in 8th Grade in 1921.  She wasn't, we'd note, the only Astraid living in Rawlins at the time as an Astraid Peterson also was.

In the 1920 census both John and Astraid are simply listed without parents, which would have been common for orphaned children.

Capping it off, however, the social notes of the Wyoming Times of Evanston reported that Mrs. Alex Gordon and her sister "Miss Astraid Austin", both of Rawlins, were reported visiting her brother, "Alex Engstrum" of Evanston.  We are totally unaware of there being an "Alex Engstrum" in this picture and we suspect that Alex Engstrum was John Engstrom, and that the first name was a typographical error.  If it was, we also suspect that John moved back to Rawlins. Alternatively, there could have been an unreported male relative in this scenario.  It's pretty clear, however, that "Mrs. Alex Gordon" of Rawlins was Effie Gordon who had one sister, and therefore its pretty clear that the sister's name was Astraid.  The new last name would suggest that she was adopted into a family named Austin in light of her still being a minor.  The degree to which that might have been informal would be reflected by school notes from the following year reporting her name once again as Astraid Engstrom.  On the other hand, the reporter might not have been great and may have confused Engstrom with Austin.

Regarding John, there were a number of John Engstrom's living in Rawlins at the time and therefore there are additionally a number of possible birth dates, although we are certain that this was his name.

All of these individuals trails are ultimately lost. There are enough Engstroms left in Carbon County to make us suspect that the descendants of these folks are still there, but we can't tell from the slim resources we had to make this post.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France. Frank O. Engstrom.

Some Gave All: Belleau Wood, France:

This is a selection of photographs from a much larger entry on our companion blog, Some Gave All.  These feature the chapel at Belleau Wood and are linked in here to note the listing of a Wyoming soldier, a member of the 1st Division, who lost his life at Belleau Wood.

Frank Engstrom entered the service from Rawlins.

Lest we forget.